17 June, 2009

So long.

Fuck you, I'm moving to WordPress.

16 December, 2008

Survivors, lol.

And this is why we haven't got a chance in hell. Barricades coming down, zombies waltzing in, and what's important in Shearbank? You're on my turf, you're not the boss of me. My room, my rules! Sometimes I wish sending messages over general chat or the transmitter didn't spend action points, then something like this happens and I remember it's one way people who suck at the game wind up in the street. Then again, I'm lying in the street too.

23 November, 2008

The beginning of the end for Urban Dead

A few weeks ago I sent my other survivor away on vacation from his home South Blythville because nothing had happened at Marven Mall since I'd rejoined the game. I took him to a bad suburb on bad information and he died there. I'd never really tried the zombie life, and I had about 1100 unspent XP, so bought some zombie skills and roamed around for a while. It was fun, but when someone revived me I decided it was time to go home.

While I was gone, the RRF brought down the mall, and as I write this they are finishing off the neighborhood.

There are about 80 of them.

In Dowdney Mall, someone had painted an overconfident boast that there were 400 of us and only 60 of them. Two days later the mall fell.

I think Malton may be falling once and for all. Many people don't realize that hundreds of apparently groupless ferals are actually in at least three well organized groups, and a lot of them genuinely dislike survivors. This wasn't a problem when it made for a fair fight, but lately it's starting to look like a problem.

Building ruining & ransacking were a big setback for us, and the newly increased need for hospitals, though I approve of it in theory, seems to have tipped the balance. Before this, things would tip in one direction or another, but these changes were unique because they've shortened the length of encounters. It's now impossible to prevent a takeover if the zeds approach a stronghold correctly - even if they don't have death cultists working for them, which they generally do. The most we can manage is to flee from one set of buildings to another and rely on the fact that they don't quite have the numbers to occupy every TRP at once.

The balance is once again 60-40. The last few times that happened we had an important advantage: It was more fun to play a survivor. Being in a permanent cycle of retreat and recovery takes a lot of that away. No AP for joking around, no radio fun, no sense of permanent residence and having neighbors, no patrols or hunting PKers or rescuing people.

There must be something we can do, but I'm drawing a blank. Now that I know I like being a zombie, the idea of zombies taking over an entire district or more doesn't bother me, but if they take over the whole town there will be no game to play.

23 September, 2008

I'm playing Second Life.

What the fuck?

I seriously cannot be trusted alone with technology.

This game has the least responsive control I've seen since pre-QuakeWorld multiplayer Quake over dialup. That's not an exaggeration. It takes one or two seconds for your avatar to respond to anything.

Why would you play this when you can play Runescape?

21 September, 2008


It's 2008, please teach me how to play an MMO.

And yes, the game really is called Angels Online.

Anything That Moves: Nostalgia Edition

I'm playing Dofus. Hey, remember this? No, not Dofus; clicking the edge of your screen then when your little guy gets there the game switches to another screen. I guess I must have missed it, because I'm still playing this game even though it crashed while I was browsing the help screen.
It might be that the music reminds me of Secret of Mana, apart from the fact that (surprise!) it doesn't loop correctly. It's the flutes playing in harmony and that synth that sounds like a choir of robots.
I made a friend. Ever notice how the first friend you make in a new MMO always has the same personality? Sometimes I think it's one of my parents keeping an eye on me. Here's my new best friend in Dofus. I am pretty sure he just ripped me off. That's ok, what are friends for.
So I'm some kind of a rogue. Peep those welfare epics. Got my Skeletor hat, got some Wolverine arm warmers, gtg. It follows that I get to set traps all over the place. These dumb sheep won't know what hit them. Pointless creatures! All they do is chew grass until something kills them.

It seems the free game is limited to 20 levels and a little island that floats in the sky above the rest of the world. Considering you can level to 1000 in this game that isn't much, and the real game is $7 a month, so either they're doing something right or they're just crazy. Some of the YouTube videos for this game make it look a tiny bit impressive, so I might stick with this for a while and see how it goes even if I'm kind of scarred from being scammed by my only friend for some level 2 sheep gore.

Here's a picture of me murdering the last of those motherfuckers using only my innate cunning and a deep knowledge of the shadow arts. This is the last time I post more than one screenshot in an article because Blogger makes it unbelievably painful. Maybe it's time I claw my way out of this sinkhole and force-feed myself a refresher course in html. Do they still use html?

Postscript: Woah, it's Courier. Not every day you see someone ranting about MMOs in 12 pt Courier, I guess. Enjoy.

What's with installers?

To save time, or something, while Shaiya was installing, I figured why not download Dofus and Cronous while it's going. Between them they are about 3/4 the size of the Shaiya installer and I thought it might all complete around the same time, so that I can conveniently start hating one as soon as I'm finished hating the other.

The Shaiya install took forever. Cronous and Dofus both finished downloading in the meantime and I felt a little silly because they must have slowed the install process some, right? No, they didn't. Shaiya actually spent more time installing after they finished than while they were going. My connection isn't even that fast.

These had better be really really awesome, not just everyday f2p grindfest awesome.

See this thread at mmorpg.com for a hint at the motive for this new wave of self-torment.

26 June, 2008


Remember the first time you joined a Quake 2 server, and people were jumping around fighting with blasters cause they didn't know the weapon spawns yet, and you thought to yourself HOLY SHIT, IT'S JUST LIKE BEING IN STAR WARS, and for a long time it was. You found the weapons, and you got to know the maps so well you could tell which elevator someone had activated just from what it sounded like all the way across the map. You could make that one jump to the super health every time, and your enemies always died in the water.

Years later you went back for a taste of the old goodness, and you joined some server that was cycling through every map in the single player game. Once again, no one could find the weapons, and everyone was fighting with blasters, and it didn't feel like Star Wars at all.

Yesterday I tracked down a copy of Giants: Citizen Kabuto, knowing that if it ran in Vista at all my disappointment and shattered fond memories would be at least as severe as the example above or any other "hey, remember how great xyz was?" sort of experience. If it ran in Vista at all. I should also mention I was concerned the game might not run under Vista.

Giants: Citizen Kabuto still feels like fucking Star Wars. The game has aged so beautifully that to this day it boasts some of the most hair-raising, intense single player firefights in any game. Playing it today, I remembered why I long ago lost interest in single player action fare: As a rule, fighting robots sucks because they are carefully engineered to lose for your satisfaction. It's supposed to be something more, but it almost never is - especially now that players who want challenge and tough competition always rush straight into the multiplayer. The single player audience doesn't care about that, and today you regularly see glowing reviews that mention a game's single player campaign as though it were an afterthought.

PROS:  Suspendisse diam est, rhoncus eu, pellentesque eu, luctus sed, nulla.
CONS:  Weak single player campaign.
FINAL SCORE:  97% - A classic!

Giants takes vertical level designs, populates them with too many enemies, allows them the same situational awareness, mobility, and desire to cooperate with one another that you would want if you were in their position, and then provides them with relentlessness and firepower. I'm not sure I've ever been chases as far or fired upon from as great a distance, even in a multiplayer game. It gives you truly dangerous enemies who are actually worth fighting, it gives you ways to avoid them when necessary, and best of all it provides you with satisfying maneuverability and firepower. All of this with humor and excellent sound effects, and it still runs flawlessly. I haven't had this much fun in a while.

23 June, 2008

Idle Hands Sink Ships, Part I

Featured articles in Wikipedia
Good articles in Wikipedia

the Solar System
Mary Wollstonecraft

Colder Still

Last week I played Rohan Online: Blood Feud, and last night I slogged through a bit of Requiem: Bloodymare. These are not good games. I have a soft spot for eastern fare, although most of it is frankly trash, but these two games are really pretty awful.

Rohan has a bit of charm to the character designs and music, and the sound effects aren't too bad. Since I consider sound effects second only to variety in importance when judging the quality of a game, I can almost recommend it. For a while. It's fun for a day or two, until you reach the inevitable point at which you find yourself whacking at the same monster over and over again for that .1% of a level. In Rohan this happens at about level 15.

Requiem is a different story altogether. Apart from not being a HORROR MMORPG, but merely a very bloody fantasy MMORPG, its major crime is making the /shout command a premium feature in its F2P scheme. Pay the optional $8 or $15 and not only do you get more xp, smaller death penalties, and other things whose default settings should be something developers arrive at in the interests of making their game challenging and thrilling; for that small amount of money you have access to a feature that comes free in every other Korean game ever made, a feature which has always benefitted others more than the person using it.

Imagine my embarrassment learning of this clever plan only days after declaring Rohan the most backwards game I had ever played.

In my depression I went back to RF Online for a moment. We'll talk about that later. I actually love RF Online and wish I hadn't hit a brick wall at level 34. But it's time to hop on my return flight and play some shitty American games again.

Thit's week's shitty American MMOs are Starport: Galactic Empires" and the ever-maligned Dark and Light. I say shitty primarily to shield myself from criticism. The truth of it is that thus far I've found D&L to be a charming and stable game which happens to control and draw about as smoothly as Runescape did five years ago.

Son of a bitch, now I'm playing Runescape.

Right now, I am playing Runescape.

Fuck you, Internet. Fuck you.

08 November, 2007

Ryzom on its way out

Earth & Beyond RIP. Asheron's Call 2 RIP. Seed RIP. Auto Assault RIP.

The sad thing about this isn't the games going under; that's probably an inescapable trapping of the form. The sad part is that in all these cases the games have become unplayable not just in spirit but literally, as taking down the login server means one can't even play the game alone and explore its world offline.

In some cases, the company in question believes the technology it developed for its game, if kept under lock and key, can potentially be sold as a way to recover losses. In others, the developers hope to use the technology again in another project, should they manage someday to recover from the present disappointment.

To my knowledge this hasn't happened yet to an MMO, but it's not unheard of for the chaos that results from a company's dissolution renders much of its work lost forever. Source code is lost, design documents are intentionally destroyed, hardware is thrown out, or ownership rights are put forever into question or split between two different companies - and the failure of the game means it's probably not worth anyone's time to sort through the mess seeking pieces for a whole that might be impossible to reconstruct.

Electronic gaming enthusiasts have until recently been so passionate and so impressive about preserving the form's history, and so comparatively few of even its earliest examples have been lost, that to some of us what's happening here is quite shocking. But by all appearances there is little that can be done. How do you impress upon people doing long hours of usually thankless work, developing something that probably will fail on some level, that they ought to take extra steps to preserve what they're doing? Is there ever the time or the money for this? What can be done?

Or was the early history of electronic gaming so lovingly archived simply because the people doing it were kids, and now that the archivists are all grown up not many people care about these things any longer?

The Saga of Ryzom in trouble again. Another chapter in the distressing tale of the independent MMORPG.

What's happening?

I just remembered something rotten.

I posted something to Reddit a while back. It was about poor old Ryzom - the abortion that lived. Or worse. Anarchy Online divided by the worst luck. I hate it when people post headlines to Reddit and don't even have a damned thing to say about the article they linked - if they even linked an article. Sometimes the link is to the comments section, and the only comment they have to offer is the headline itself. Maybe I just don't understand people.

That's probably it. I don't get it. Maybe that's good.

At any rate a dead MMO depresses the hell out of me. Partly because I loved Asheron's Call 2 so much and barely realized it until it was too late. Partly because who knows. At any rate, it looks like poor old Ryzom is on her last, last legs.

So on that note.....

02 April, 2007

Some Thoughts on Poison Crafting

Taken from a post to the forums. It's interesting how much negative feedback I've received on this from people in my guild, justified solely by the notion that poison crafting is an innate skill and therefore it should be treated differently from other crafting. But in the end aren't the other tradeskills complex and difficult because that's fun for us? If they make us unhappy why bother with them? To me it's the complexity of the professions and the challenge of collecting recipes that make them worth pursuing.

Poison Crafting - More interesting, please!

Playing my first rogue, I was dismayed from early on that after the initial quest our poisons were just freely given to us. There are no problems or challenges involved in raising the skill or in acquiring the materials.

This and all games are at their best when they present the players with problems to solve and challenges to overcome, so I offer a wish list I've been mulling over.

1. Let's see the Shady Dealers stealth around town, and switch towns from time to time.

2. Let's see them have faction alliances and longer respawn timers so that losing your poison vendor hurts and people protect him, maybe even escorting him from town to town.

3. Require some poisons to be mixed at Ravenholdt Manor. Let's see a battle there. Let's see a shaky peace there.

4. Allow Herbalists to harvest some of the ingredients. Place them in areas just a little too hard for a rogue who's just learned that recipe. Make some ingredients only available via Herbalism. Make a few of them soulbound.

5. Make some the poison Alchemy recipes, and let's maybe see Enchanting get involved a little.

6. Give us a specal bag to hold poisons in.

7. Make the poisons deteriorate after 2-8 hours if they aren't in the poison bag, so that we have to contact and place orders with other players.

9. For extra credit, let's see some poisons only available from players in the opposing faction.

There's no need to throw out or render useless the existing poisons. While all of them need to be a little more trouble to make, a whole range of new poisons could be added without ruining the old ones, featuring slight but desirable variations in DPS, fail rates, charges, duration, stacking, cost, and allowed combinations.

23 March, 2007

The Problem with Guild Wars

Last summer, before I rediscovered World of Warcraft, I fell madly in love with Guild Wars. I was disappointed in or intimidated by every other MMO out there, and most of all Factions is just really, really nice. But the last few times I tried getting back into the game it couldn't hold my interest. In fact it made me angry.

Fine, don't have an auction house. It's not as though Blizzard ever copied anyone's ideas. It's not as though Guild Wars is 90% Diablo II. So they filter WTB and so forth onto a Trade channel, which no one uses. It's an EULA violation to evade the filter, but the only means of reporting violations is (last time I checked) buried in the website and requires inclusion of a screenshot. Well is that even fair? What if I don't just want to single out five or ten people? What if I want to report everyone?

So it is, as near as I can tell, literally impossible to use the general chat channel for general chat. Even if you wanted to, the only other people watching tend to be those stupid or angry enough to tolerate or thrive in such an environment.

I asked for help with a quest I was stuck on. A guy helped me then asked if I'd like to join his guild. I figured what the hell. There was only one other member. I figure he must have done this before, and maybe it'll be fun helping put a new guild together. He gives me some gold for recruiting, because the game charges gold for that.

I don't log in, then I do log in. I don't know how to give him his gold back. I feel like a thief. How do you find another player in Guild Wars? Ask the de facto tradebot channel that is the main chat window if anyone knows him? The world is split into a thousand pieces.

I didn't have this trouble in Anarchy Online back in 1991. In 1993 the chat system for Asheron's Call 2 not only broke for several months but continued to work often enough that people kept trying to use it. There was no way of knowing whether it was working or not at any given moment. Were the other players busy, or did they not see what you said at all? This may have been the singular factor in the game's demise two and a half years later. The only detail that challenges it is Turbine's bald, proud contempt for their player base.

Guild Wars is set up worse than this, and yet it recently inched out Eve from the number one spot on mmorpg.com's chart. This is not a small or meaningless accomplishment; over 65,000 people voted in the website's awards last year. You could fairly argue that Guild Wars is the most widely loved game in the world right now. Why? How do people put up with it?

I miss playing, and I know someday I'll look back to AC2 and think, "I should have learned my lesson and played Guild Wars while I could, and now it's too late." But right now the idea of playing the damned thing makes my skin crawl. Kind of a drag considering it's my second favorite game.

11 March, 2007

For the first time in over seven years of this I'm close to hitting the level cap of a legitimate MMO that isn't Guild Wars and they go and raise it.

I'm having a lot of fun, though. Still in Hellfire Peninsula with my quest log overflowing. It seems never to end, like a tall, cracked Barrens with a hell of a lot more pigs and scarier music. God I love Hellfire Peninsula. I might love it more than Felwood. It may be the greatest fantasy game setting ever.

That's why I first took to World of Warcraft - the setting. Some of it. I'd been miserable starting out a night elf in Teldrassil. It reminded me so much of the irritating, precious new age shops I'd frowned at in Santa Barbara when I walked past. (I grant a loving exception to a place called Boon Mee, because the place was a reliable source of Tangerine Dream soundtracks as well as bookends in the shape of ducks and lamps in the shape of ladybugs.) You know the place, though. La la nature spirituality dreamcatchers wolves indians Great Spirit incense Yanni night elves.

In Blizzard's defense, they did Teldrassil the Blizzard way, and the characters who live there spend much of their time calling on their naïve, idealistic youth to serve the balance of nature by massacring harmless, blind herbivores and leaving their carcasses to rot unused in the forest. In my later undeath I had a soft spot for Thunder Bluff's deliciously vile Melor Stonehoof before I ever approached the Hunter's Rise. It's this sort of thing that makes me certain Blizzard hasn't lost an ounce of their giddy Diablo nastiness.

We shall discuss Melor Stonehoof and Diablo in a future entry, but suffice it to say that in spite of this element I could only take so many doting centaurs and so much gooey wisp-air, and I needed badly to get the fuck out of that place.

I'd flirted with a PvP realm in the form of a dwarf, which meant spending time in Dun Morogh, perhaps Azeroth's loveliest setting. I had no friends on that realm, though, so I was alone. I thought perhaps, though, that I might secure passage for my poor night elf to Khaz Modan, and so I asked.

We - my ancient friends from Subspace and points west, now relocated to Azeroth - took the boat to Darkshore together, and from there to the Wetlands, and they escorted me through the Wetlands.

After perhaps a month or two of suffering this syrupy game in hopes of someday growing to like it, I fell completely in love with the setting as intended for people who are not secretly night elves in real life. Why did I start this game out as a night elf? I have no idea, and I eventually abandoned the character, but for now I was finally in a murky, frightening place full of softly menacing music and heartless crocodiles. When we turned the corner and I finally saw Khaz Modan from below, that was the moment.

We went up through those tunnels, through the mountains, in and out of the jutting rear overlooks of Ironforge, and I thought: someone finally got this right. Someone who reads finally made a fantasy game, and it's too bad no one who appreciates fantasy fiction this much is making movies these days.

(I'm really only taking a cheap shot at Return of the King and the The Two Towers.)

Having visited all of Azeroth, I believed they had covered everything - mined all of world geography, history, and fiction for every possible setting. An enormous crater populated with dinosaurs and pirates? We've got it. California wine country? No problem. Every road movie ever made unless you count Lolita - check.

I arrived in central Hellfire Peninsula with its impossible fish-eye vistas and my jaw dropped. What the hell, man? How do people come up with this stuff?

You can tell me that this is simply a matter of corporate whiteboard powerhouse design gone way over the top, but I don't believe you. The creative team for World of Warcraft is actually quite small. There are a lot of designers credited - the entire company, in fact - but when I boil it down I see seven game designers and, more interestingly, nine level designers.

Nine level designers for all of Azeroth and Outland combined, inside and out.

I am genuinely in awe of and envious of these people. And the more I think about it the more I'm convinced that to find a parallel for what has been and is being accomplished by these people you have to look beyond art and entertainment. I think you have to compare it to the significant developments in transportation, government, agriculture. Don't think of WoW as the new Star Wars; think of it as the new rail transport, the new atomic bomb. The arts simple haven't discussed attempting anything that falls under the same heading.

Or I could be wrong. I hope I am, because if there's something else like this going on right now I'd love to be exposed to it.

25 January, 2007

*yawn* huh? wha?

Yeah, I do that sometimes.

You missed two months of forgettable guild drama. I think I'm going to tell everyone about it here because it's been pretty ridiculous. Ridiculous online drama isn't very interesting, but the real life crap that was going on behind it is worth telling.

Later. For now let me get back on track.

Tip for the day: If you miss the zeppelin from Orgrimmar to the Undercity, get on the one to Grom'Gol instead. It'll arrive at the Durotar tower shortly after the one headed to the Undercity leaves. Shortly after it reaches Grom'Gol, the other zeppelin will arrive.

This is much faster than waiting another six minutes for the next UC blimp at Durotar. It also gives you the option of jumping off at the Bulwark. Careful, that's a longer fall than it looks - a little over 2800 damage for me last time I went, and I landed on a hilltop.

15 October, 2006

(slight return)

It was an okay summer for three reasons. One, I fell back in love with Guild Wars. Two, I finally figured out how to enjoy World of Warcraft. Three, I didn't play Urban Dead at all.

This morning I had Firefox open for some reason. (Come to think of it, I was looking for a torrent of the new Guild Wars soundtrack.) I saw Kevan's blog on the link buttons and noticed he's made a new game. Haven't played that yet, but for the first time in months I felt like playing Urban Dead. So I fired her up.

I had thrown myself out the top floor of a police station and was still laying dead on the ground. I pulled my rotting body up to a more or less standing position and wandered a few blocks north to the infamous Craske Triangle, curious about the fate of my beloved Cornelius General Hospital and hoping the revive point I set up would still be active. It is, but the Necrotech building it relies upon is overrun and the hospital is at death's door, so we'll see.

My evil twin Vacuos was miraculously still breathing God's clean air, but he'd awoken in a mall which had been entirely taken over by the walking dead and torn apart, so he high-tailed it back to Marven Mall, where he is now sleeping soundly in the gun store.

Some goth kids we're friends with lay dead in the streets of Vinetown. They got up and shambled up the road to the nearest revive point. The plan is to make their way soon to the City Zoo, where they intend to convert the reptile house into a gloomy nightclub staffed by Adult Swim fans and standoffish DJs.

After I see to the Craske situation I must seek out my old confidante Bake Hayes and see what he's up to. Then I've got a score to settle with the world's worst fire department. And there's the matter of redistricting the entire city.

One thing at a time. Someone remind me.

26 August, 2006

What the fuck is wrong with me.

I wrote an update yesterday then saved it without posting because I didn't feel it was "finished," and discovered three others like it written over the course of the past month and a half. Something tells me I've been taking this a little too seriously without even realizing it.

So I think sometimes I'm just going to shoot my mouth off, just like the good old days. Sometimes it won't be about games. Sometimes it will be wrong, or stupid, or mean, or both, but at least it won't be sitting in My Documents longing desperately to be hit by a stray text search just to fulfill the basic need for human contact.

If the article is about a game, it'll say so in the title from now on. So anything with a title like "what the fuck xyz," you can safely skip it without missing out on the cigarette-smoking-man subplot.

I'm also going to do this.

As Above - Kevan Davis' blog (my favorite)
GoodShit - a perfect blend of odd finds, weird history, and naked ladies (almost as good)
the Virgo Supercluster entry at Wikipedia - because so many people don't know where we are
Robotech - maybe the greatest television series ever
the best kitten ever getting ready for TF2

08 July, 2006

Guild Wars Factions

I am so madly in love with this game that I've now played it until I can no longer possibly justify spending another moment at the computer. Well, here I am writing about it, but not much.

28 June, 2006

Now I am become flamebait, the tipper of cows.

I finished Half-Life 2 yesterday. First game I've finished in recent memory.

I talked to a fellow C-section friend a while back. She never finishes anything either. I said to her, "You're a C-section, aren't you!" I can spot us from a mile away.

She says to me, "No, I couldn't even go through with that."

Apparently they'd decided to do a caesarean and gone through all the preparations, then she goes and pops out au naturale style. I wonder if you can get your money back when that happens.

So I decided recently I need to quit starting new things and focus my time on finishing what I've started, and I'm a bit proud of myself for finishing both a game and a book in the same week. Lord knows how long it's been since I pulled off that double whammy. Thing is, yes, Half-Life 2, hell of a game. Monstrous accomplishment, work of art. Game of the year? Best game ever? What the fuck?

No spoilers here, except in the most nonspecific and general way, but have these people never before played a game with a satisfying ending? How about a disappointing yet neverthelesss cathartic ending? How about one where you get to see what happens?

I felt a little bit like I did when I left halfway through Unbreakable to use the bathroom then came back 5 minutes later to see the final lines of dialogue and the credits rolling.

Oh well. Yes, it's a great game, but let's not kid ourselves. It's no Quake II.


27 June, 2006

O bitter defeat!

So I think I finished Urban Dead. I lost.

UD is a great game, but its players leave much to be desired. I've been in a fight with the fire department over barricading levels for a hospital they don't use. I spent two weeks lobbying for a guild relocation then watched as everyone got lost on the way. Every day I log in and see important buildings breached and multiple people killed because the buildings' residents refuse to put up strong barricades just in case someone gets stuck outside.

The pessimist in me suspects that the better a multiplayer game is, the more fatally it will be hamstringed by the essential unworthiness of its players. I give you Subspaces's Trench Wars, I give you the crib death of every great Tribes variant. Countless diabolical and clever Counter-Strike maps put out to rust. Anarchy Online's initial (and acidental) territorial fighting, and the beautiful overland hunting game sucked into the bowels of the earth. Asheron's Call 2.

Yes, the players did ruin Asheron's Call 2. If anyone wants to debate that with me we're going to take it outside.

So I moved all three of my characters to different locations within striking distance of the Giddings Mall, which I consider vitally important for reasons I can't be bothered to explain after all this. The idea was not to play sneaky zerging games but rather to be separately of a common benefit. This resulted only in my becoming three times as frustrated with the human side in the game.

So I've decided not to be quite as helpful anymore.

Whether this just means being a self-serving asshole or turning in earnest to the dark side, I'm not sure. So presently I'm on a soul searching break, a journey of self-discovery through the blood-caked food courts of poor, forgotten Malton.

Maybe it's time to get the cable turned back on and play a real game.

12 June, 2006

Knee Deep

What is it with web games? Why do I like them so much all of a sudden?

Right, it probably has something to do with my Internet connection being incapable of supporting any other type of online gaming. I'm thankful for this, though. Were it not for my inability to play more technically demanding games I might never have discovered Urban Dead, which has become my favorite game, or Nexus War, its spiritual successor just as UD is said to have been the spiritual heir to Vampires!.

I've gone on quite enough about Urban Dead, but I'll say a word about Nexus War, because it's beginning to sink in. It doesn't resonate with anything universal like humans versus zombies, and for me it lacks that special intangible that gives me a sense of place and atmosphere in a game. It might simply be that the interface is too nice.

But I will say this: It's a real, full-blown MMORPG in the style of Vampires! and Urban Dead, complete with item trading, crafting, guild housing, castle raids for lack of a better term, and lots of other stuff. It's really, really complicated and I'm only just now getting the hang of it. But I'm starting to really enjoy the game.

Hopefully I'll get my cable back in this week and I can start writing about the real stuff again.

09 June, 2006

A cockmonger approaches. Command?

Read Great Blogs and the Important of Reciprocity [sic], and then read poor Tobold's typically meek response. Tobold I love you to death, man, but you have got to grow a middle finger.

I don't know, what do you guys think? Should I add a list of self-aggrandizing assholes to the sidebar on my own page?

Why do I let this sort of nonsense piss me off?

28 May, 2006

The Plot Does Not Thicken

Good lord, I went a month without updating. It's just like the good old days, isn't it?

My free wireless withered away, and I found myself scrounging around on my laptop for an Internet connection. It's my own damned fault.

The zombies overran my fucking hospital complex in Heytown. I hate a few people and am a little disappointed in myself, but am none the worse for wear. Lessons learned and so forth. The Craske Triangle will persevere. Maybe you could even get off your ass and help out!

That said, it's been a while since I played anything other than Urban Dead. Actually that's not true. I fired up ZSNES and have been barrelling through The 7th Saga and Final Fantasy VI, neither of which I finished the first time around.

FF6 needs no introduction, of course, much less mooning advocacy, but The 7th Saga just might. I'll stop short of calling it the greatest console RPG of all time, but neither would I bet good money against that. Even if it didn't boast the fiercest, nastiest combat of the pre-Guild-Wars era, the fact that all your potential party members can strike out on their own and compete with you - even kick your ass in the tavern and steal your most precious assets - is so far ahead of its time, thus far to my knowledge only one miserable Wizardry game has even attempted to copy it.

And the music is wonderful, and the world is enormous, and you never really know what the hell is going on, and the moment you let your guard down the wrong combination of random assholes confront you on the path overland & hand you your severed head. All of a sudden a stupid zombie and a floating brain are healing & resurrecting each other, debuffing you, sapping your mana, and God knows what else.

Most people balk at the Guild Wars comment. Try soloing a Necromancer-Ranger sometime. I'm sure there are ways to make it easy on yourself, but if you don't... man are you ever in for a treat.

30 April, 2006

The Plot Thickens

I somehow managed to spend nearly all day and night playing Urban Dead, with just a three hour break to drink coffee and read a Greg Egan story.

I have taken over a hospital and am using it as a cornerstone for an impenetrable survivor fortress in eastern Heytown. You can read our hilarious wiki entry here.

A particularly valuable member of the Cornelius General Hospital Family is one Bake Hayes. He's started an Urban Dead blog which I've been enjoying. Also benefiting from quite a bit, since he's been motoring all around Heytown and Spracklingbank doing zombie head-counts.

Sorry I have nothing to say about anything else. Actually I have a scary Eve story to tell you, and an event idea for Anarchy Online which my guild rejected without comment... but right now I need ravioli and sleep, and sex. Well, two of the three should do the trick, but not at the same time.

22 April, 2006

Good News for Me

I just wrote an entry asking that one of you Urban Dead players search the Desensitised forums for any evidence of a forgotten early morning drunken rant by myself, because some time ago I was banned from there, and I was pretty sure I'd never posted.

Well it turns out I'm unbanned, so there goes that problem. And no, I never posted an early morning drunken rant, or anything else for that matter. Go figure.

It may be true that no good deed goes unpunished, but a happy corollary to this truth is that good things happen to people who sit around and hope their problems will just go away.

My Urban Dead Wiki Page

Not much on it at all, but I feel like linking it anyway. What the hell.

21 April, 2006

Nexus War - First Impression

I think I won't be getting too involved with this game. For reasons I can't quite pinpoint I've forgotten to play it most days, and even now I'd rather write something not very interesting about the game than actually play it.

It's got a nice interface. Maybe it feels too nice, too fancy. Part of Urban Dead's charm is that there's just nothing there but the game. Any bells and whistles come from the numerous Firefox extensions which have sprung up as necessity warrants. I'm probably balking on some deep level. How dare you try and upstage our glorious leader?

Likely it's partly just unfamiliarity. Lots of buildings that seem pointless but probably aren't. But the game also gives me a sense of purposelessness or at least overcomplicated purpose. I don't like that when I die I possess a new body, and to have all these mundane things like gas stations and apartment buildings in a fantasy world torn in half by a huge void is a bit jarring. But it's also fresh so I have some hope for recovery. And it's brand new.

Like the title says, this is not a judgment, just a first impression. I wouldn't mind getting a little posse together and bopping around around. Anyone interested? Leave a comment.

Oh yeah, here's the link.

14 April, 2006

Nexus War

I eavesdropped on a discussion in the Ridleybank Resistance Front's IRC channel. A fellow by the name of jorm is working on a new browser game called Nexus War. Some people who like Urban Dead quite a bit like this game quite a bit more. At a glance it looks too complicated and overly kind, but so is Eve. And I really like the place names. I'd write more but I haven't actually made an account yet and I'm kind of excited.

11 April, 2006

Why Urban Dead Works

I finally broke down and sent Kevan some money so I can infect my lovely girlfriend with the undead plague and not worry about the 160-hits-per-day limit.

I realized today with full force what exactly it is that appeals to me so much about this game. Not since Subspace has a game so organically woven conflict and incident out of its players' will.

I say woven not because it sounds silly but because for once a massive multiplayer game has not created, but allowed its players to create, its history, its political landscape, and even its rules. We see many of these elements in Eve and on Darktide, and I've always contended Anarchy Online reached for it with occasional success. These are all great games, and their enjoyability argues for the restrictions they've adopted - but I don't love them as much as I could, and for the most part no one will remember what happened in them and say: I made that happen and it changed everything.

Before now, only one game has really let you do whatever the hell you wanted, and more importantly forced you to deal with players who could do whatever the hell they wanted, to such an extent that the game had not rules but ethics and the deadliest weapon in the fight was inventiveness. That game was Subspace. Its successor is Urban Dead.

I'll finish with a story.

At the beginning of 2006, a horde of over a thousand zombies organized and began shambling from one shopping mall to the next. But for one such they found abandoned, throughout January they laid siege to and in time overran nearly every mall in the city of Malton. At the beginning of february they reached Caiger Mall and began their final attack.

But this mall was different. Bolstered by refugees from the fallen malls and a powerful, well-organized police department which ruled the neighboring suburb of Dunell Hills, Caiger Mall stood against the zombie threat. For six weeks the throng clawed at the barricades while breaking into nearby support structures and safehouses. Finally the zombies conceded defeat and moved on.

Caiger Mall was victorious. We made t-shirts. The Mall Tour '06 took their loss out on Dunell Hills, quickly moving through the neighborhood and destroying it block by block. If no good deed goes unpunished in life, it certainly should not in a game. I'm proud to have been a small part of the Caiger Mall defense, but creeping through the ruins of Dunell Hills searching in vain for any sign of life is something I can tell my grandkids about.

How did you spend the winter, you frightened little night elf?


Once again I've been a shit.

Urban Dead excepted, I started this page out as a sort of substitute to playing the games I really love. I think I've mentioned game block in passing; I won't go into it, ever, but suffice it to say I was spending a lot of time on games I don't care about. World of Warcraft, Oblivion, dabblings in the MMO curiosity of the week.

It sank in how important it is, at least in my world, not to do this. So I'm back to playing Eve and Anarchy Online each day and pretty much nothing else. So you won't hear about much else for a while, maybe.

Except for Urban Dead, of course. The rest of this post turned into another impassioned advocacy for that game, so it's now a different post.

30 March, 2006

MMO Blogs

I read Tobold's MMORPG Blog fairly often, even though it usually makes me pretty angry. Part of the inspiration for this page was a fairly nasty comment I wrote, but never posted, in response to one of his (in his defense, he admits it) thin-skinned posts about PVP. (Actually the post was about ninja looting or dice rolling or some other ridiculous modern-day endgame concern, but my response had more to do with the general attitude he and others have about PVP.)

I like being angry, though, as It helps me be a better griefer - know your enemy, right?. So I've got his feed on my Google page and everything, and sometimes it pays off. Tonight I discovered Play to Crush, and I'm in love. I'll even steal their link to the funniest thing I've seen in a long time.

I've got nothing of my own to contribute this morning so I'll end it there.

28 March, 2006

A delightful contest!

Now that you all know about my new blog I have devised a chickenshit tactic to inspire your participation via the comments. Each month, whoever's comments I like best gets a game I bought but didn't like. This month's winner can have either Lineage II or Hegemonia. I'm not sure you can give someone your copy of Lineage II, but I certainly mean to try.


I am rapidly losing respect for Oblivion.

A fellow on the street tells me about a happening tavern, so I stop in. No one's there but the proprieter, so I gossip with him a little.

It's when I sit down at the bar that things get weird. First off, there's already food there, a place setting at each barstool with food on each plate. But the owner doesn't come over to serve me; he just stands there by the door, appearing to ignore me. Have I caused him insult? I don't know.

A cafe up my street usually serves you bread when you sit down whether you want it or not. Most of us have been to Mexican restaurants where they bring you chips and salsa... but something here tells me I'm not allowed to eat any of the food that's already out. So I get up and walk back over to him. He has food for a sale, but only ingredients; no meals. A head of lettuce, a loaf of bread, some cheese. I buy some bread and cheese then walk over to a table where there's an empty plate.

Did I ever have a hell of a time putting my food down on that plate! I ate the cheese by accident, so decided to sit down and have the bread I'd bought with some raw, spoiled sewer-crab I'd picked out from a pool of feces and urine the evening before. Well to get them on that plate I first had to drop them on the floor. The bread rolled partway across the room, but the crab landed on the table, knocking some blackberries on the floor.

Again, some instinct told me to leave those blackberries alone. A fleeting memory from a past life, perhaps.

Well I pick up my bread and the crab and put them on the plate. In Oblivion you have a gravity gun just like the one in Half-Life 2, except there's no gravity and it's not a gun. The process falls somewhere between telekinesis and carrying a cat with your elbows. Eventually, though, I had the plate bautifully arranged and I sat down to eat.

Earlier I'd been out on the street shooting the shit with some of the townspeople, and I was impressed at the control they had over their necks. They could look up and they could look down, just like normal people without pancake makeup and Welsh accents. But to my dismay I learned that I, as a dark elf, have no such control of my neck. Unable to look directly at my food from a seated position, I was forced to stand back up and eat.

There was a newspaper on the table. Have you ever been to a cafe and there was already a newspaper on your table? Even though it was last week's issue, I thought perhaps I'd pick it up and have a look.

But again, I worried this might offend the owner. The owners of the cafe up the street are mean. One even called a friend of mine fat and said she looked like she had been using heroin. Perhaps the owner of such a place in a computer game can be similarly mean, especially if he has no customers.

But several people had wandered in by this time, and a conversation was underway. I didn't think he'd notice, much less mind, were I to look at someone else's week-old issue of the paper - but just in case I didn't take it. In Oblivion you can take an item like you can in good roleplaying games, or if you'd rather you can just push it around with your invisible elbows.

Well I figured I'd test the fellow's temperament by just shifting it over a bit, and if he raised an eyebrow I'd make as though I just didn't want to get crumbs on the thing. That wasn't a very good idea, because he flew into a panic. "Stop!" he yelled. "Thief!" And a guard rushed in. So I ran out.

The guard followed me out, and then to my further surprise four more guards came out of the same door. Where were they hiding? Had they been under the newspaper? Maybe that food at the bar was for them, and they had all gone into the restroom together. I hadn't noticed a bathroom, but I bet the lady I stole ten hammers from earlier that day didn't know there was an entrance to the crab-infested city sewers in her basement either. Cyrodil is a land brimming with secrets.

Outnumbered, I surrendered. To be more specific, I went to the bar and sat down. I dropped my weapons and I took off my pants. The message was not clear. One of the guards stood on the barstool next to me and chopped repeatedly at my neck with his sword.

I'm not too clear on what happened next, but I must have survived because I found myself in prison. In prison, you can lie down and sleep through your entire sentence, but that sounded boring to me so I went to the bars of my cell and chatted up the guard.

This fellow wasn't too friendly either. He informed me that talking is not allowed. Then he talked to me for twenty minutes. He didn't like jokes, and didn't believe me when I mentioned what a swell chap he was, how big his muscles were and how shiny his suit of armor. But he enjoyed my boasting and confessed to envying my way of life - and he loved being threatened. After we'd been talking for a while he even began to stutter. Now that I think of it, he might have had a crush on me. I wonder if he still works there.

25 March, 2006

Game of the Year 2005

I should note this about the Urban Dead post below: All that stuff actually happened. It's not fanfic. It's mildly embellished and roleplayed, but except for a few slips of my memory it's an entirely truthful account of my last two sessions in the game.

If that sounds boring to you, cool, but it's this sort of chaos and freedom that wom me over to a game in a genre I generally cannot stand.

Best game I've played since World of Warcraft, seriously.

Well, Shadow of the Colossus - but that's not really fair, like comparing apples to galactic superclusters.

Urban Dead

I had a harrowing experience last night. Revived from zombification by a helpful player, I found myself dear death and infected by a bite that took my health down with each move.

I hurried to the nearest hospital, and thanked the heavens it wasn't barricaded so heavily I couldn't get in. Entering, I found a small group of survivors and two dead bodies. Those bodies would become zombies sooner or later, so I dumped them outside. I then warned those present that I'd seen several zombies waiting outside the barricades on my way in, and asked if someone would heal me.

Instead, one of the survivors present attacked me. I don't know if these guys claimed ownership of the building, or if he was what they call a zombie spy, or a member of a death cult, or was hejust a jackass? But I made sure the others present knew what he was trying, then searched frantically until I found a first aid kit to cure my infection, and I got the hell out.

Dangerously low now on both health and moves, I fled up the street, desperately looking for another building that hadn't been heavily barricaded. I found one. This time the building was empty.

So the ethical dilemma. Do I leave the place undefended against the few zombies outside, who might have seen me enter, and hope they don't tear down the weak barricading? Or do I barricade the place up as well as I can and worry I might get another survivor killed, or worse: pissed.

You bet your ass I barricaded that fucker until I could no longer keep my eyes open.

I woke pleasantly surprised to find myself alive. Refreshed and ready to move, I set out for the infamous Caiger Mall, site of the five greatest battles in the history of Malton. I'd helped to defend its entry points, but now I could get into the mall itself.

Raising my experience ever so slightly as I went, I acquired the skill of Free Running, which I like to call Pole Vaulting - the ability to move from roof to roof, thus bypassing the extremely heavy barricading used on important buildings. I found one of those entrances - a lightly barricaded library which had been my home earlier in this fifth siege. And from there I entered the mall.

There are over 2300 people in here with me. And there is a spirit of jubilation, because as of today it appears we have one. The zombie horde known as Mall Tour '06 has moved on to the southwest, and we are relatively safe here.

But I don't feel right staying. Waking after a nap, I noticed someone had spraypainted on a wall. Dunell Hills neads your help!! 13 blocks SW. Come if you can. Mall Tour '06 ravages the next neighborhood over even as I write this. So tomorrow I strike out for Dunell Hills. This time I intend to be carrying a whole bag full of first aid kits, and whatever I manage to find in the gun shop.

Lag Hell

I guess it's time to stop surfing random wifi and get a real connection again.

I live in a young and densely populated area of NYC, next door to a hotel, so there's a lot of random wifi floating around. For a long time I could play pretty much anything on this connection. I was playing a lot of Unreal Tournament during the fall. Half-Life 2, Diablo II.

When I found out Asheron's Call 2 would be closing at the end of the year, I got back into that, then in my mourning turned to Guild Wars and Eve and World of Warcraft. More recently Urban Dead. I noticed a couple times that I couldn't play action games so well, but I didn't much want to so I only tried a few times and didn't think much of it.

Sometime over the last few months my packetloss went through the roof. I'm teleporting all over the place in Guild Wars, can't even spectate in Subspace without the server disconnecting me. All this wireless saved me about $900, I can be happy with that. Time to move on and shell out for cable again.


Three of the Subspace 10th anniversary events were today and I couldn't even watch them, much less participate. I'm dreading all the phone calls and stupid conversations to get the cable turned back on, and the day spent waiting around for a guy to come and hook it up. No matter how ready to go you are a guy still has to come and hook it up.

Back to Oblivion for me. And World of Warcraft, I hope. I have new admiration for that game now that I know how well it deals with packetloss.

24 March, 2006

I can't believe it's not multiplayer!

It's been a while since I impulse-bought a game, and longer since I impulse-bought a game and actually liked it. So I was surprised at myself - if not at the game, based on its reputation - to find myself playing Oblivion for 12 hours out of the past 24.

My poor Night Elf has been sitting alone in Ashenvale all day long, listening to that terrible music, her poor vulture's stomach growling away. Both my Urban Dead characters were killed despite one of them already being dead. The legions of people who won't admit I talked them into playing Eve have probably forgotten I have an account. Subspace could well have died its fourth death for all I know.

Needless to say, I can't remember the last movie I saw, and I've been reading the same book for three weeks.

One reason I level so slowly in roleplaying games is I wander off and explore constantly. Oblivion is the biggest and most open-ended in the series that single-handedly invented that sort of behavior, yet I find myself not doing this at all. The story has an urgency to it that has kept me on target without my even noticing. The movement and control have little of the awkwardness that made Morrowind such a chore at times. The combat is fun. My eyes don't glaze over when someone tries to give me a quest. Usually I even accept the quest.

Pretty much everything about this game is right.

I'd tell you more but I'm itching to go back and play some more. (Also I don't think I have any readers yet.)

In other news, I hate kittens.

19 March, 2006

Bio-readouts are all in the green, looks like she's alive.

Over 1700 people are playing Subspace as I write this. There are even a few full matches underway using the once-extinct classic settings.

After reading what happened to the servers a couple weeks ago I was worried that this was the beginning of the end, but I went in last night to check things out and found it doing quite well. I saw some old friends who told me there was a tournament scheduled this afternoon for the old style War Zone game.

When I went on today the game was full of people, two full matches of a gametype I'd thought long-dead, complete with the original ship settings and classic style bases. Another of the classic zones was up at 250 people. More people are playing this game than I have seen in years. There's a post somewhere on Slashdot from 2002 where I boast that, though the game was 6 years old it was still doing well. Now here it is just past the ten year mark, and it's actually doing better.

This makes me a very happy person. If you haven't played Subspace I wish you would try it. See the various links to your right for downloads and guides.

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